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New Releases: Ace By DAISY

The DAISY Consortium are pleased to announce new releases for both versions of the Ace By DAISY EPUB accessibility checking tool: the Command Line Interface (CLI) and the Graphical User Interface (Ace App) versions 1.2.

These releases contains significant internal changes that address security issues, improve performance, and fix bugs at various levels of the project architecture. Crucially, DAISY Ace now uses the latest version of Deque’s Axe library.

There are also improvements for screen reader users including updated accessibility checks that match the latest W3C WCAG and ARIA specifications.

Both DAISY Ace CLI and  the desktop Ace App depend on a number of third-party code libraries, which are up to date. As usual with DAISY Ace App releases, the latest revision of the DAISY Knowledge Base is included.

For more information on Ace by DAISY visit the Ace resource pages.

 

Event Report: Key Takeaways from NIPI Include! 2020

NIPI conference logoThe following report was prepared by Marianne Gulstad and we are delighted to cross-post it here on Inclusive Publishing. Marianne is the EPUB QA Officer at Publizon A/S, a key distributor of digital publications in Denmark.

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So, back in November 2020 I had a splendid day with my Scandinavian colleagues at the NIPI Include! 2020 conference. About 125 like-minded joined in at 9:30 am and stayed online until the end, at 3 pm. We came from Latvia, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Many from MTM Sweden, I noticed – only a from Denmark, which actually surprised me a little … But I was happy to ‘see’ my former workplace Systime being represented by Claes Sønderriis, with whom I have created many text books for music and physics 20 years ago when I was working there as a graphic designer. It was also nice to see a handful of NOTA-people present, also from Denmark – which I will look forward to getting to know. Well, back to the story: We had a full programme of well-known speakers from the accessible publishing world – and a few new ones (to me, that is) – and they all had important takeaways. I was not disappointed.

Let me enlighten you with my key takeaways – things I did not know beforehand, or statements I find important to know:

Key Points from the Speakers

First up, Molly Watt (accessibility and UX expert):

  • Not all visually impaired readers prefer audio to text as their first choice
  • Many visually impaired readers rely on color adjustment, text scaling in order to enhance text visually
  • When designing reading apps, give users multiple choices for color adjustments, scaling and margins

Richard Orme (cool DAISY dude … CEO of the DAISY Consortium):

  • Try to think accessibility broader
  • Focus on visually impared, but also on how physical handicaps and situations can be helped
  • Understanding who you are doing this for will make you (ebook authors and RS developers) create smarter solutions for ALL users and situations

Daniel Saidi (freelance software engineer):

  • Being reachable, is not being accessible

Cristina Mussinelli (Secretary General of Fondazione LIA) on what “Born Accessible” means:

  • Define a specific procedure aimed at defining accessibility checks (internal or external) of the publication
  • Adopt international standard metadata schemas and distribute them along the value chain
  • Provide to end users an accurate, but friendly, description of the accessibility features available in the publication
  • Use the checkers that already exists for accessibility validation, like Ace.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel – You don’t have to go through the same workload that we did. Seek help from organisations that are further in the process, like LIA. We are here to help

Wendy Reid (Accessibility and Publishing Standards Lead at Rakuten Kobo – @wendy_a_reid):

  • You can now create accessible audio books with W3C Audiobooks specs. Plz, feel free to invent its checker

Luc Audrain (former Head of Digitalization, Hachette Livre):

Lunch Break was Tool Time

I stayed glued to the screen during the lunch break, watching the two tool presentations.

Elisa Molinari (LIA Project Manager with M.A. in Italian literature) showcased some best practice for writing image descriptions, and how not to.

Also from Fondazione LIA was Gregorio Pellegrino (Chief Accessible Officer & Computer Engineer) who showcased how their pilot project can create image descriptions using AI algorithms. Still work in progress but I find this pilot project very interesting. You can find more on YouTube, or contact LIA directly.

Richard Orme showcased how to use Ace by DAISY and SMART to self certify your accessible EPUB publications to WCAG Level AA. If you are an ebook creator, I strongly advice you to see how to use Ace for analyzing your files for accessibility.

How to Accomplish the Move into Accessible Publishing?

Well, some changes are easily implemented, others will take months to get right. But we (the publishing ecosystem) have 4 years to get it right. And like you would begin any new journey – like climbing Mount A11y – or eating an elephant – start with one step at a time. One mouthful at a time. It is important NOT to be overwhelmed, but be excited to begin implementing accessibiliy into your publishing workflow. Start now. Reach out. Take the first step… or bite.

Thank you, NIPI-folks, for a lovely inspiring conference.

(If I did not mention you, I am sorry, you were not boring – I just have an extreme appetite for tech info)

About NIPI

The Nordic Inclusive Publishing Initiative (NIPI) is a Nordic network of governmental agencies committed to provide accessible information, products and services to people with print disabilities.

The Include! Conference aims to connect key participants from the Nordic world of reading and inclusion, with the goal of initiating the joint work on inclusive publishing. #nipi_include!

Go to Programme and Speakers  or YouTube to see the entire NIPI Include! 2020 Conference.

Inclusive Publishing Seasonal Survey 2020 Reveals Promising Trends

The words "What Does progress look like?"Our annual survey, looking at accessibility within the publishing industry, has, this year, revealed a very promising trend towards awareness building and born accessible content creation. We seem to be at a tipping point and our hope is that accessibility becomes the norm within the digital publishing world and that ebook building blocks are finally equipped to serve all readers.

We received responses from a good mix of geographical locations including: USA, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Argentina, Mexico, Denmark and India. We were also pleased to receive responses from a wide range of publishing content types which has enabled us to get a more realistic and helpful view of the state of play.

Confidence Levels are Up!

Bearing in mind that those who filled out the survey probably discovered it because of an active interest in accessible publishing, the results in the category are as expected with 56% of replies claiming to feel “very” confident in their awareness of their product’s accessibility. 32% are “somewhat” confident and only 9% professed to feeling “not so” or “not at all” confident. The majority of replies from those in this last category came from publishers who publish text and graphics i.e. richer content which can bring additional accessibility challenges. Confidence levels are also boosted by the availability and awareness of tools to test titles for accessibility, but more on that shortly.

Embracing the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 Specification

68% of replies said that they adhere to the EPUB  Accessibility 1.0 Specification. Most of the organizations adhering to the specification felt very confident in their awareness of the accessibility of their products so it is good to see the specification gives reassurance and confidence in this way. Some people did offer the remark that they “weren’t sure” so there is certainly scope to improve the awareness and understanding of the specification.

Methods of Testing for Accessibility

Ace by DAISY, the free EPUB accessibility checking tool has clearly had a remarkable effect on publisher’s ability to test and check the accessibility of their content, with both the desktop app and command line versions scoring well in the survey. Those who have integrated the command line tool into their in-house workflows hail from quite a variety of publisher types. The bigger houses are certainly incorporating Ace into their workflows but it is very encouraging to see that some of the smaller publishing concerns are also managing to make this change. Publishers from the USA  and UK are top of the leader board here.

There is much confidence in Ace but no single solution is appropriate for all accessibility testing, and the survey results reflected that with a range of testing taking place. 44% of respondents indicated that they had access to accessibility experts either in-house or contracted, and 41% said they were outsourcing accessibility to 3rd party as part of production. 

A smaller number of people are currently using SMART, the DAISY tool to assist with manually checking titles and resolving issues after testing with Ace. Full access to SMART is available with our Inclusive Publishing Partner program, but anyone can use SMART for free to test 2 titles per month.

A few respondents indicated that they use a pool of testers with print disabilities to learn directly from end users, which is something we would encourage for periodic testing. This approach to testing provides an important perspective on how assistive technology interacts with reading systems and your publications.

What Proportion of Content is Tested?

The method of testing is very important but currently not all publications are being tested as we hear that this remains impractical for some publishers, depending on their workflows and content type. We were therefore very pleased to see almost half of respondents said that they test all of their content, and some of those produce a wide variety of publications including text with rich content.

Even if content will not currently pass accessibility testing or you are not able to immediately act on the results, running your publications through Ace can provide useful data to build a case for adopting accessibility as well as information about issues which need to be addressed.

Barriers and Challenges

Significant progress continues to be made throughout the industry in the adoption of inclusive publishing practices, yet many barriers remain which prevent widespread adoption. By far the biggest barrier reported was the cost and time required to implement accessibility related practices, which was identified by both small and larger publishers.

Interpreting and keeping current with the standards, guidelines and legislation was another topic highlighted by a few respondents, with mention of being “knee deep” in documentation and struggles with simply working out which standards apply to book publishers.

Alt Text and image descriptions in general were highlighted again this year but to a lesser extent than we saw last year. The amount of work involved in producing good quality alt text appears to be an issue that some organizations are actively seeking a cost effective workflow solution for.

Other challenges included handing of complex content including math, chemistry and scientific materials, raising awareness that ebooks do not have to resemble the print edition and keeping current with user needs, including the need for greater understanding of assistive technology.

 

Many thanks once again to everyone who participated in the survey—your time and honesty has enabled us to put together this snapshot of how we are progressing as an industry. We are extremely positive about tackling some of the issues raised and hope to report back with interesting feedback soon. We will be back with another survey towards the end of the year to continue to track our progress as an industry.

Announcing the Launch of the Ace by DAISY App

The DAISY Consortium is delighted to bring you the new Ace by DAISY App. Many of you will be familiar with the command line tool which has proved revolutionary for accessibility checking within EPUB workflows and this new desktop version builds on test version released a couple of months ago to make testing EPUB files from your desktop an even easier process.

Ace by DAISY helps you to ensure your EPUB content conforms with the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 specification, allowing all readers to access and enjoy your content irrespective of print disabilities or access requirements. The Ace App is designed to allow you to quickly test EPUB files through a familiar graphical user interface and highlight any issues which need to be addressed. Users will still need some understanding of the EPUB specification and accessibility requirements in order to resolve any problems found, but to make that process easier the Ace App is integrated with the DAISY Accessible Publishing Knowledge Base proving quick links to the relevant reference in this essential resource.

The Ace App is not intended to replace the command line tool, which remains the ideal solution for those wishing to test multiple documents or to integrate the testing process directly into production workflows. Technically the testing process taking place behind the scenes is identical on both the Ace by DAISY command line tool and the Ace App, so this is simply an easier way for some users to access the same process.

Get started by visiting the Ace App Github page for instructions on download and installation.

Announcing the New Ace by DAISY App

Following feedback from our users who found the Ace by DAISY command line tool useful but in some instances challenging to use, we are delighted to bring you the new Ace by DAISY App.

The Ace by DAISY App is a desktop application available for Windows, MacOS and Linux, allowing EPUB accessibility testing directly from your desktop, helping to ensure your EPUB content conforms with the EPUB Accessibility 1.0 specification, and allowing all readers to access and enjoy your content.

Note this is a release candidate and you may encounter minor bugs which we will work to address in the coming months. For more information on this release visit the Ace by DAISY App page.

Born Accessible Content Checker from Germany’s Central Library for the Blind

BACC logoThe DAISY Planet has published a useful update on the Born Accessible Content Checker from DZB in Germany. Using the Ace by DAISY accessibility checking tool, BACC is a web application which allows publishers and publishing service providers to check the compliance of ebooks in the EPUB format. To read more about this initiative from the German Central Library for the Blind you can access DAISY’s article in the Planet Newsletter.

Inclusive Publishing—End of Year Review

Head shot of Richard Orme, CEO of the DAISY ConsortiumIt’s been a busy year for Inclusive Publishing and, as we look forward to 2019, Richard Orme, CEO of the DAISY Consortium, reflects on some of this year’s successes for accessible publishing and our industry.

As an industry hub and news portal, InclusivePublishing.org has seen and reported on some major advancements in 2018. Our own Ace by DAISY tool launched in January giving the industry, for the first time, an EPUB accessibility checking tool which has now become invaluable to many in-house workflows. Open source and free, Ace by DAISY can be integrated at any point in the creative process and has immediately become one of the essential EPUB building blocks for publishers and vendors. We are thrilled to report that a version of the Ace tool with a graphical user interface will be available early next year and we will, of course, keep you posted!

We’ve been pleased to report on some terrific events this year as accessibility becomes a major focus for publishers worldwide. In March we presented the Ace tool at ebookcraft in Toronto. The London Book Fair in April saw the 10th Annual Accessibility Action Group seminar focus on Strategies for Success and we were proud to stand alongside other industry stalwarts on the podium. June saw our DAISY Symposium entitled Building Bridges for Better Access, which focused on the accessible study materials.

In October we covered the new-look Digital Book World  and we were delighted to play a major role at this exciting event. We are already looking forward to next year! And the Accessing Higher Ground conference in November was a huge opportunity to hear from a wide variety of publishers about the strides towards inclusive publishing practices.

The DAISY Consortium now maintains and develops EPUBCheck, the conformance validator for the EPUB format. We rounded off the year by reporting on the release of version 4.1. EPUBCheck is overseen by the W3C and funded by generous contributions from across the digital publishing landscape.

We’ve been very lucky to work with some top-quality authors this year and our thanks go to all of them for their contributions and news updates. From event reports to opinion pieces, we’ve been fortunate to be able to publish some terrific pieces of extremely high quality.  In addition, we have been delighted with the response to our new interview pieces: Inspiring Words from Industry Leaders. Our interviewees are indeed an inspiration and we will be adding to this stellar line-up in 2019.

Accessibility has been a common thread in conversations across the publishingindustry for quite a few years now, but from anecdotal evidence 2018 appears to mark the start of something special—widespread mainstream adoption of accessibility. This reflects the changes we have seen and supported in accessible content creation and validation, but also throughout the supply chain, with a positive impact on education services, reading systems and the metadata which makes the whole process function.

It’s very important to us that we continue to support the wider industry on this journey towards inclusive publishing, and with this in mind, we have created a short end of year survey so that we may take a snapshot of our community.  We’d be very grateful if you could spare a few minutes to complete the survey (now closed) and to help us gauge where we are, and also to report to you all on how we are progressing as an industry. Our thanks to all those who have completed this already—we look forward to sharing the anonymous results with you all soon.

We look towards 2019 with perhaps more optimism and enthusiasm than previous years. It has been wonderful to see how the industry has responded to our InclusivePublishing website and newsletter, and we hope that you will all continue to support us—we rely on your input and are very grateful for it. There are some exciting developments we look forward to sharing with you next year, and we will continue to publish both technical and non-technical information to cater for all our readers in this way.

We wish you all a very peaceful holiday and we look forward to an exciting year ahead.

French National Accessible Digital Book Meeting

January 17th, 2019

After the success of the France’s National Day on Access to Books and Reading: Let’s Find Solutions Together , BrailleNet, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Book and Reading and The National School of Sciences of the World and libraries (Enssib) join forces again to organize the first National Accessible Digital Book Meeting.

With lectures in the morning and practical workshops in the afternoon, publishing professionals will be able to:

  • stay informed about industry developments to extend accessibility to all
  • become familiar with and / or improve their knowledge of digital accessibility
  • share their experiences and expectations

The event is aimed at all book and reading professionals and includes a session entitled: Ace by Example where Luc Audrain (Hachette Livre) and Fernando Pinto (EDRLab) will look at what the Ace by DAISY tool can test for and at the consequences of nonconformities for the reader.

Date

January 17, 2019

Venue

Enssib, Villerbanne, France

Learn More

Accessibility in Modern Publishing Workflows at Digital Book World

Digital Book World conference bannerDigital Book World 2018 took place at the beginning of October – re-imagined and re-invented by its new owners Score Publishing, in Nashville Tennessee, home to many music legends and now to a major publishing conference.

Ace developer and DAISY speaker, Marisa DeMeglio presented the session Accessibility in Modern Publishing Workflows on the second day of the conference.Very much a discussion style session, Marisa spent some time describing the work that DAISY focuses on internationally and the impact it has had on digital publishing, in particular. Demonstrations of various types of reading experiences highlighted the need for accessible mainstream ebooks and it was clear that EPUB can solve many challenges provided developers make full use of the accessibility features that are available to them within the standard.

Marisa showed delegates Ace by DAISY, the free open source EPUB accessibility checking tool from the DAISY Consortium which can be integrated within publishing workflows at any stage of production. The release of the new Drag and Drop version, for which there is huge interest, is on the horizon and it was exciting to be able to update the audience on this. Demos of Ace together with The Accessible Publishing Knowledge Base showed publishers that accessibility is entirely achievable within their mainstream content.

Marisa also discussed SMART, the Simple Manual Accessibility Reporting Tool, designed to guide users through the manual checking process that Ace highlights. Available to vendors and publishers via DAISY partners as part of a consulting or audit service this latest tool from DAISY was greeted with much enthusiasm.

The Digital Book Awards saw an array of awards including the Innovation in Accessibility Award for which DAISY was a finalist. Our congratulations to the winner of this award, Amazon Alexa and to the other finalists in this category.

Inclusive Publishing looks forward to hearing plans for DBW 2019.

Workshop Report: The Production of Natively Accessible Books

logo for the french publishers associationThis post was kindly submitted by Luc Audrain, Head of Digitalization at Hachette Livre and co-chair of the W3C Publishing Business Group.

Inside the Syndicat National de l’Édition (SNE), the French publishers’ association, a technical group “Norms & Standards*” has been formed to work on standardization for the digital world, bringing together publishers, booksellers, the BnF and the Electre and Dilicom companies, to reflect on the implementation of standards which are shared by all.

The group organizes practical workshops aimed at informing SNE members about standardization and monitoring technical developments. In France, EPUB accessibility is taken very seriously by the publishing industry and for the second year running the annual workshop of the N&S group has focused on this subject.

Lead by Luc Audrain, the N&S group held it’s workshop on Thursday 5th of July to provide SNE members further in-depth knowledge of EPUB accessibility.

This year, the group showed that with existing production and validation tools, it is indeed possible to achieve a high level of mainstream accessibility in simple books like novels.

The audience had the opportunity to discover :

  • on which international standards EPUB accessibility is based and which major organizations are involved, like the DAISY Consortium
  • how to practically encode accessibility in EPUB content, following the EPUB Accessibility Techniques 1.0 document
  • How to use Ace by DAISY to avoid evident errors through a live demo
  • How Indesign EPUB3 export can be used and how much work afterwards is necessary to bring the file to pass Ace
  • what training and financial support might be available

Demo of Ace by DAISY showing a perfect score for a file exported from InDesign

This slide shows the perfect technical validity from Ace (Accessibility Checker for EPUB) for this EPUB3 file exported from InDesign. All the steps described in the presentation are also available on the SNE website (in French) at the Norms & Standards page together with group documentation from the day’s event.

 

As a reminder, the N&S workshop from last year was covered by DAISY in their newsletter:

http://www.daisy.org/planet-2017-06#a1

*Members come from publishing houses and also from the national library (BNF), the Ministry of Culture, booksellers, books in print database, and include a blind EDRLab employee Fernando Pinto da Silva.